About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ka`u News Briefs Saturday, July 29, 2017

Keauhou koa forest, further protected by the new Safe Harbor agreement between Kamehameha Schools,
the state Department of Land & Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Photo by Travis Idol/CTHAR
NEARLY THIRTY THREE THOUSAND ACRES, much of it mauka of Volcano Village, will be further conserved with the Safe Harbor agreement approved Friday between the state Board of Land & Natural Resources, Kamehameha Schools, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The 32,800 acres at Keauhou and Kīlauea, given by Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani to Kamehameha Schools, adjoins the state Pu`u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve where the Hawaiian Crow is being reintroduced into the wild.
     It also borders Kapapala Forest Reserve, Hawai`i Volcanoes National park, Mauna Loa Forest Reserve and Kipuka Ainahou Nene Sanctuary. The land becomes the largest Safe Harbor for endangered species in the United States.
‘Alalā, with help from San Diego Zoo, will be reintroduced into
adjacent state land with the Safe Harbor property becoming
 a potential habitat for the future. Photo from San Diego Zoo
     The Safe Harbor agreement is for 50 years and is aimed at supporting recovery of threatened and endangered species. The contract establishes a baseline for Hawai`i's only native mammal - the hoary bat, as well as seven species of native birds and 25 species of native plants.
     It is a landmark agreement for Kamehameha School, the first time it has signed such a contract with the state and federal government for conservation.
     DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “The vast acreage covered by this Safe Harbor Agreement is incredibly important to the recovery and perpetuation of these vital bird, bat, and plant species. We are extremely happy to have worked out this agreement with Kamehameha Schools and in the coming decades look forward to many great stories of native species success as a result.”                    
     Kamehameha's end of the bargain includes its promise to plant more than 20,000 plants every five years, 1,000 acres of koa in new forests on old pasture, assuring firefighting capabilities with infrastructure and getting ride of pasture fence with barbed wire that can harm the bats. Most of the property is already fenced and largely free of goats, sheep, wild cattle and pigs that compete for resources with native species.
A few of the many species of wildlife supported by the new Safe Harbor
agreement between Kamehameha Schools, the state Department of Land &
Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife.
Photos from Kamehameha Schools 
     Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, the ‘Alalā Restoration Project Coordinator for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife said, “The momentous finalization of this large-scale Safe Harbor agreement will particularly benefit imperiled species, such as the ‘Alalā, which will be reintroduced on State land adjacent to the Keauhou-Ka‘ū Kamehameha Schools parcel, thereby in-part, protecting and managing potential ‘Alalā habitat for decades to come.”
     Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong commented, “This agreement strengthens Kamehameha Schools’ ability to steward these lands in a manner that fosters healthy habitats for species fighting to survive. As we work toward a thriving lāhui, the cultural connection to ‘āina that is healthy and
vibrant becomes much more important for Native Hawaiians and all the people of our State.”
    Kamehameha Schools Ecologist Nāmaka Whitehead said that Hawaiians are Hawaiians because of the ‘āina. “Healthy, functioning native ecosystems are the foundation of Hawaiian cultural identity and well-being. Stewarding our ʻāina to be more resilient ensures that future generations will continue to have a relationship with the native species and ecological processes that make us who we
are. I Hawaiʻi no nā Hawaiʻi i ka ʻāina. Our ʻāina, Hawaiʻi, is what makes us Hawaiian.”
     Across the state, Kamehameha Schools owns more than 365,000 acres with about 5,000 acres set aside for commercial and residential use. The non-profit is tasked with using income for education and operates school campuses and outreach programs throughout the islands.
The Safe Harbor near Volcano includes bare lava (in red), forest with closed
canopy (dark green), forest with open canopy 
(light green), scattered
 trees (mustard) and very scattered 
trees (yellow). Map from Kamehameha Schools
     See the plan at https://dlnr.
hawaii.gov/wildlife/files
/2013/10/ks-sha.pdf.

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DANGER, HIGH VOLTAGE – KEEP OUT may become pervasive signs in Ocean View, alongside “For Sale” signs, if the industrial size solar project is allowed to proceed on neighborhood houselots.
    The project has been slowed by a complaint lodged by two Ocean View residents, with the state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utility companies in Hawai`i. An application by HELCO, for an overhead transmission line to serve the project, was put on hold in September 2016 to allow the PUC time to considered the complaint. After an eight-month lull, the complaint case is once again active with an exchange of questions among the complainants, HELCO and the developer – an international corporation based in China, called SPI. 
      The project, which involves placing about 1,000 solar panels on 17 non-contiguous three-acre housing lots and eight 21-acre lots in Ocean View’s makai subdivisions, was announced by HELCO at a community meeting in June 2015. Since then opposition to the project has grown. A petition against the industrialization of Ocean View was signed by 640 residents, about 90 letters of protest were sent to the PUC, including letters from Ka`u’s elected representatives. 
      “I really object to their back door approach,” said Mats Fogelvik, President of the Hawaiian Ranchos Road Maintenance Corp. “This project is supposed to be part of the Feed In Tariff Program, which was aimed at bringing renewable energy to Hawai`i when solar was still new. This should have been up and running in 2012 and saving the island from importing oil for the past five years.  
 
High Voltage signs and fencing are the likelihood, if industrial
scale solar farms are established in Ocean View neighborhoods.
Photo by Ann Bosted
    
“It has not yet begun. Instead of spreading the 32 installations slated for this island on parcels of open land, HELCO allowed the developer to concentrate 26 installations in Ocean View on lots that are slated for homes. This is not what the FIT Program should be all about. We don’t want dangerous, high-voltage industrial installations, surrounded by six-foot security fences, in and among our homes. And we certainly do not want a new substation built on HRRMC land right next to the Kohala gate, which HELCO seems bound and determined to give us,” added Fogelvik. 
      This April, an SPI employee, Kevin White, who was vacationing in Hawai`i with his wife, hosted a community meeting in Ocean View, in an attempt to placate residents. 
      Residents loudly made statements to White, including the following: “Go away.” “We don’t want you here ruining our community.” “Have you heard of the Monkey Wrench Gang?” “Your panels will be good for target practice.” “This program was set up for agricultural people, not for you.” “You are scamming us for roads and poles.”
      One resident explained: “As soon as your project was made public, our land and home values went down.  This affects all of us. Everyone in Ocean View will take a hit.”
      Sandi Alexander, the former President of Ocean View Community Association, told The Ka’u Calendar, “I don’t believe they (SPI) have any clue who they are dealing with and how much opposition they will continuously have to deal with until this goes away. Why would anyone want to invest in technology that is already out of date?  We are going to be stuck with outdated, horrible, structures rusting away, and we are going to have to deal with them.  My first choice is no project at all and my second is project elsewhere."
A solar farm in Miloli`i of the type that could be constructed on
numerous lots in Ocean View. Photo by Ann Bosted
      “I object to the way they try to play the jobs card and convince us that this is what we want,” commented Sandra Shelton, Secretary of the Hawaiian Ranchos Community Association. “If the 16 lots in Ranchos could be used for homes, instead of solar installations, far more desirable and useful jobs could be created.  Home building requires carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, landscapers and many other skills that abound in Ocean View.  Solar panels don’t go shopping.  They don’t contribute to the community.  Any profits go to China. 
     “I am still getting e-mailed questions from concerned residents who are very much against the project,” she added. 
      SPI has stated publicly that it plans to sell the project as soon as it is completed, so generating profits from generating solar power is not a goal. Instead, a spokesman stated at a community meeting, SPI plans to claim generous federal and state tax credits, which will reimburse 65 percent of its investment.  If the project can then be sold for an estimated 75 percent of the cost, SPI will have received 150 percent of the cost of the project without producing power. 
      The exchange of questions among the parties to the PUC case (the complainants, HELCO and SPI’s lawyers) must be filed by Aug. 4.  The complainants must submit testimony by Sept. 1, other parties must submit testimony by Sept. 15, and the Complainants must submit rebuttal testimony by Sept. 28.  That will be followed by a prehearing conference, then a hearing, then post hearing briefs, then post-hearing reply briefs, and finally a decision by the PUC. 

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Ka‘ū Coffee Growers Meeting, Tue, Aug 1, 6 – 8 p.m., Pāhala Community Center.

Blue Zones Project Gardening Demo, Wed, Aug 2, 9:30 – 11 a.m., Pāhala Community Center. RSVP at jadeiokepa@healthways.com

Open Mic Night, Wed, Aug 2, 6 – 10 p.m., Kīlauea Military Camp’s Lava Lounge in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Call 967-8365 after 4 p.m. to sign up and for more details. Open to authorized and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply. 967-8371